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Probers asked: How did test copies reach Baguio?

Probers asked: How did test copies reach Baguio?

By Christian V. Esguerra
Last updated 05:42am (Mla time) 08/28/2006
Published on page A1 of the August 28, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

THE MAN accused of masterminding the nursing exam leakage has turned the tables on his accusers.
George Cordero, former president of the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA), instead wants authorities to investigate how complainants from Baguio City got their copies of the actual 500-item test taken by about 42,000 examinees on June 11-12.

Cordero noted that these copies were attached to the examinees’ official complaint with the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC).

“The ones complaining are also the ones with copies of the leakage and they’re also the top performers in the board exams,” he told the Inquirer in an interview.

Cordero, who resigned from the PNA as a result of the controversy, failed to show up at the Senate investigation on the leakage more than a week ago.

“If there’s someone who should be pinned down, it should be the PRC official in Baguio. Only that person could be the source of the leak in Baguio,” said Abelardo Domondon, one of Cordero’s two lawyers.

Cordero noted that a school in Baguio was among the top performers among schools with 100 or more examinees.

In contrast, he said his school, the Philippine College of Health and Sciences in Manila, registered a miserable 32-percent passing rate.

He said the mark was much lower than the school’s 57-percent and 48-percent ratings in the June and December 2005 exams, respectively.

His son flunked

“My son also took the board exams and he flunked,” he said.

Cordero denied the allegation made by an examinee at the Senate inquiry that he had shelled out P7 million to get advance copies of the tests from the PRC.

He said spending such an amount would have been ridiculous considering that his Inress Review Center had only 926 students, each paying P10,000. “How could I earn by spending P7 million when I only have a small number of students?”

Another serious allegation involved the “final coaching” session that Cordero had conducted for Inress reviewers at SM Manila mall before the board exams.

Cordero admitted that there had been such a session, but claimed there was nothing irregular about it. “It’s an enhancement program and all other review centers usually do that.”

He said around 2,500 questions covering the five areas of the exams were presented. Some of them were similar to those that appeared in the board exams, but only because “they came from the same books,” he said.

Crafting exam questions

Domondon explained the intricate PRC procedure in crafting exam questions until these were transmitted and printed in 11 testing centers around the country. He said he used to be part of the PRC board for accountancy.

His explanation basically echoed that of the six-member Board of Nursing (BON) whose members appeared at the Senate investigation.

Domondon and Celia Valdez are lawyers for the BON in the case filed at the PRC by one Rachel Cyndi Erfe and other nursing examinees from Baguio.

In their seven-page statement, the BON members said the five-part June exams followed the Test Question Databank System (TQDS), a software protected by a “source code” which has only three passwords.

“The PRC rules provide that there should be an initial 500 questions deposited in the TQDS by each board member for his/her assigned subject,” the members said.

“At each subsequent examination, he/she shall deposit at least 300 additional questions in the test bank unit until it (meets) the ideal level of 3,000 questions/problems.”

One question encoder

The BON members said only one of the examiners personally encoded the questions. The others had to be assisted by three PRC encoders who did the job a week before the June 11 and 12 exams, they added.

Two to three days before the exams, they said questions were “extracted” then printed at the 11 PRC testing centers.

“There was a premature release of the actual test question for Sets 3 and 4,” the BON members admitted. “For whatever reasons, these sets were released in Baguio and found (their) way into the hands of the complainants who filed with the PRC a complaint against the entire Board of Nursing.”
Domondon said that while the actual test had been leaked, “we were not the source.”

Still, how come Cordero was being tagged as the mastermind of the leakage?

“It’s all about professional jealousy,” he claimed. “The accusations are all lies.”


Without naming names, Cordero blamed politics within the PNA that purportedly frowned upon his “stature” in the international nursing community.

He said he used to be a board director of the Geneva-based International Council of Nurses, a federation of 129 nurses associations working mainly in the areas of professional practice, regulation and social economic welfare of nurses worldwide.

He claimed he was the only Filipino so far to be part of the organization.

“I’m hurting because I didn’t do anything wrong, yet I’m being accused of so many things,” he said in Filipino. “Worse, I’m known not only here but also in the international community. I can get my visa anywhere in five minutes.”

“We’re planning to file criminal and civil cases against whoever is liable. My name has been dragged down. I’m really ashamed in the world of nurses,” he said.

Cordero said he resigned as PNA president if only to “preserve the integrity” of the nursing association.

“I didn’t want the name of the PNA to be dragged down just because of this issue,” he said.


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